Throwing Caution to the Wind


Bon voyage.  It was a great farewell party.  No, we were not sending someone off on a trip.  Rather, we were sending him off on a journey to start a new chapter of his life.  Philippe was leaving the Washington DC metro area for Copenhagen to join “the love of his life”.  After three years of a transcontinental romance, it was time to be together.

I asked him about his plans for his new life, other than spending them with his lady and planning their wedding.  He had no immediate employment, although she is well connected and is networking for him.  He’s had an interesting life and shared that he had always done everything according to a plan.  For the first time and after much soul searching, he was throwing caution to the wind, taking a leap of faith and going.  It was time.

What guides you in the decisions you make for your personal life, your professional life, and for your organization’s life.  We all know the importance of mission, vision and strategic goals.  It helps to determine:

  • Where we and/or the organization are now?
  • Where we and/or the organization hope to go?
  • Why we and/or the organization hope to go there?
  • How we and/or the organization hope to get there?

We also know it’s important to assess:

  • Internal Strengths
  • Internal Weaknesses
  • External Opportunities
  • External Threats

These activities help us to advance the strategic planning process to implementation.  And if done as a systematic process, success should follow.  Often times along the way, even with the best of planning and assessment, the unpredictable happens.  How well are you prepared to meet the challenges of unexpected and unpredictable events?

Disasters strike, as we’ve unfortunately seen happen too many times in recent years.  Whether they are natural disasters like hurricanes named Katrina or Sandy or unnamed tornadoes, or man-made disasters like Newtown or Boston, employees’ lives are affected.  Business leaders need the resources to address them – resources like employee assistance programs, disaster recovery plans or business continuity plans.

The unexpected can also be exciting.  New opportunities arise that weren’t or couldn’t have been predicted.  How willing are you (and/or the organization) to take a risk?  Agility, flexibility, resiliency, these are all characteristics needed to embrace change.  Is your organization one that will embrace change?  Are you willing to embrace change?  Are you (and/or the organization) able to craft creative, innovative and imaginative business solutions?

As important as it is to have resources and plans to address disaster, it’s equally important to have processes and plans that will allow you to recognize, capture and embrace new opportunities.  Every good strategic plan is just that, a plan.  It’s not cast in concrete.  Every good strategic plan allows for evaluation and modification.

How often do you get a chance to take a risk?  How often are you willing to take a risk?  And if you take a risk and implement a major change, how prepared are you to communicate the changes to your employees and guide them through it?

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